Turkey and Qatar Leaders Meet Amid Growing Isolation


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan starts a two-day visit to close ally Qatar on Monday. Afghanistan and economic support for Turkey’s crisis-ridden economy are expected to be on the agenda of talks between the two countries’ leaders.

Turkish and Qatari officials say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s two-day visit to Qatar aims to further deepen bilateral cooperation.

Erdogan will chair Tuesday’s meeting of the Turkey-Qatar Supreme Strategic Committee with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Doha. The two leaders have developed a close relationship built around mutual interests, says former Turkish ambassador to Qatar Mithat Rende.

“Turkish-Qatari relations are important for both countries; the cooperation between the two countries to modernize the armed forces of Qatar and to train the Qatar armed forces by Turkey that provided a kind of security umbrella for the Qataris. This, in turn of course, benefited Turkey because Qatar invested heavily in Turkey also,” he said.

Security ties were further strengthened by the construction of a Turkish military base in Qatar. Analysts say such support was vital to Doha to resisting Saudi Arabian pressure, which at times has been intense. In 2017, Riyadh imposed a four-year blockade on Qatar.

Erdogan’s visit comes as Turkey faces severe economic strains and the Turkish leader is expected seek financial support from the energy-rich emirate.

This year, the Turkish currency has lost nearly 50% of its value as international investors fled over Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policies.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking in Doha Monday, said Turkey is not seeking a specific amount of money from Qatar, but rather to improve overall economic ties.

Huseyin Bagci, head of the Ankara-based Foreign Policy Institute says Erdogan will likely be looking to Qatar to add to its twenty billion dollars of investments in Turkey.

“Every foreign investment is important for Turkey. Qatar remains for Turkey as the substitute source of international investment,” he said.

Qatar has remained a loyal ally to Turkey at a time when Ankara’s relations with its traditional Western allies have deteriorated.

The two countries share similar goals and they will, on this visit, seek to expand on those.

Ankara and Doha back the Egyptian opposition while also cooperating in Libya.

Foreign policy analyst Bagci says these talks in Qatar will focus on Afghanistan, where the two countries are working to reopen Kabul’s international airport.

“Qatar has the money, and Turkey has the technicians. Turkey has already sent a lot of technicians for the airport in Afghanistan and Kabul airport will be in operation soon internationally,” he said.

Aid groups see the reopening of the Kabul international airport as vital in alleviating Afghanistan’s unfolding humanitarian crisis.

Source: VOA